Archive for the Equine Assisted Category

Crass Meets Class

Posted in Inspiration + Enlightenment, Supernatural Horsemanship, World Equestrian Games with tags , , , on October 6, 2010 by martimu

I am a crass person. I admit that. I have no couth sometimes. I find it easy to access my inner 9 year old when it comes to humor is what I’m saying. So when I started to catch sight of some of the para-equestrians competing in the WEG this week what occurred to me was along the lines of “Oh goodie, a sport I’ll be able to compete in when my rather thick-skulled Paint finally finishes me off.”. Or maybe I’ll succumb to my mini’s whacking me in the knees sending me into a wheelchair that way. In any case I found the humor in my own pathetic riding inabilities, all the accidents my equestrian friends have endured over the years and connected the dots that way. Remember – I have no tact. And then I saw them:

And started hearing the stories of so many of these amazing riders. These are people who have found rejuvenated hope on the backs of some of the kindest most caring creatures humans have ever partnered with. These courageous souls and their unbelievably kindhearted and talented mounts redefine what inspiration can be. They’re being tested in ways I can only imagine and they are surpassing expectations on every level.

These riders are better than I will ever be despite their circumstances. Their grace, their technique, their acumen as equestrians — as human beings – as fellow horselovers — has redefined for me what horsemanship can be. I am moved. I am inspired. I am so very proud of each and every one of these beautiful and capable participants. I say Bravo! Come see them. Here’s how.


Spanish Heart + Soul at the WEG Freestyle

Posted in Inspiration + Enlightenment, Supernatural Horsemanship, World Equestrian Games with tags , , on October 4, 2010 by martimu

By now you’ve probably caught wind of Edward Gal’s amazing ride on Moorlands Totilas with their record breaking 91.082 score in Dressage Freestyle at the 2010 World Equestrian Games, but unless you were one of the lucky 30,000 dressage fans in the stadium that night you may not have witnessed one of the most animated and showstopping performances of the sport. Juan Manuel Munoz Diaz rode his Spanish horse named Fuego (meaning Fire – aptly named I must tell you) to the absolute delight of everyone present. Did I say rode? More like danced. Strutted. Showed off. Hotdogged if you will. You need to see this:

What’s so fun about this ride is how much it reminds me of an actual warrior riding his worthy mount at a celebration. The others are more like royal dandies gamboling about with no sense of having been to nor ever getting close to a battlefield. I’m not making a judgment here – but as dressage itself is based on warrior training I’m just sayin’ this pair seemed more authentic to me.  Munoz-Diaz rode it different. Wonderfully so!

When he one hands down the center you know for certain he would be able to wield a sword. When his horse goes a little kooky as the crowd erupts in appreciation at the end of their seven plus minutes of accomplishment you get to appreciate just how much horse that dude was riding one handedly.

Unfortunately for the pair they rode on a night when technical marvels entered the riding ring so they placed out of the medals but at the top of many people’s own collection of golden moments from these games. I, for one, will never forget their display. Here’s another video of their ride – nicely edited. Oh, and one last thing – before Fuego entered the dressage test ring – he leaned down and tried to take a nice bite out of the decorative greenery surrounding the area. A horse is a horse is a horse is a horse. A light moment that proved the relaxed nature of these two as they set about preparing for one of the biggest performances of their lives. Me? I couldn’t eat before my ACTs or any finals – lol.

Witnessing Grace

Posted in Inspiration + Enlightenment, Natural Horsemanship with tags , , on August 16, 2010 by martimu

Yesterday my goofy black and white paint and I attended a half day clinic together. It was after we got to play and go through our paces for several hours and things were winding down that my attention was called to a private continuation in the round pen between our instructor, Ms. Shelby Hume, and one of our fellow-partnerships from the clinic who had remained unmounted during the afternoon’s exercises.

The small, beautifully proportioned and unusually marked dun with stripes on his legs was standing quietly at the mounting block while Shelby and the horse’s partner went through the usual pre-flight checks. The gentle bending, a soft eye, a calm attitude, were obvious in both team members. She was invited to test the waters and swing a leg up. All good. And then her whole self. Viola! And they walked off. Absolutely nothing to it. Routine, right?

But the rider wasn’t happy. She was fighting back tears. No, wait, she was happy. She was beyond happy. This was her first time on this horse. Likely his first rider ever. He was rescued from the Kentucky Equine Humane Center. She couldn’t put the feeling into words at first. But I know this feeling.

first time rider

The author on her paint for his first ride ever

I experienced the exact same reaction the first time I got up on MuMu. I also couldn’t describe it at first.

But when I thought about I think what I was feeling, the mustang’s rider was feeling too, is a moment of ultimate and complete Grace. The coming together of hopes, dreams, plans, hard work, attention to detail and the natural willingness to cooperate of another species that could just as easily fly off and say “NO!”, but doesn’t. Doesn’t choose to. Chooses to stay with us and complete this journey. For me it is the moment of knowing that all things are connected, can cooperate, might even choose to do so that chokes me up, allows me to feel a healthy humility and experience grace firsthand.

Finding Unicorns

Posted in Inspiration + Enlightenment, Supernatural Horsemanship with tags , , , , , , on January 29, 2010 by martimu

firld bookIn his book “A Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound“, writer and renowned unicorn researcher, Craig Conley describes places to search for these mythic creatures and ways to do so. This is a practical handbook that draws liberally from literature and other written sources to illustrate its points.

“If you listen to the unicorn and hear a unicorn, you’ve not really heard the unicorn. But, if you listen to a unicorn and hear a miracle, then you have heard the unicorn.”

–Zen parable

Yesterday I set out to collect an experience of listening for unicorns accompanied by a willing, limber horsewoman and opti-mystic (one who believes in miracles). Our path took to a limb and leaf strewn, moss frosted hill down to a lively flow of water that has painstakingly and persistently carved the layers upon layers of hardened Kentucky limestone into hundreds, even thousands, of the most beautifully sculpted fairy landscaping vignettes the eye and mind can ever hope to behold.

The photos above show a place located between the pasture I see every day when I look out the window over my kitchen sink and the rise just beyond. It may have been there since the day I moved here six years ago. Is it odd I just discovered it? Not really, I just started looking.

Unicorns live in places usually described as being so impossible to conceive of let alone view from one’s usual vantage they become not just invisible, but non-existent. In the field of equine advocacy right now there is a dichotomy of thought so rife with conflict, so infused with righteous and conflictual fervor it is hard to imagine any common ground.

That it does exist is without question to the Opti-Mystic. It is beautiful, stable and teaming with unicorns. Right now both sides claim that no such place does nor even can exist and for them in this moment this is quite true. But some of us are quite aware that just because they can’t see, feel, taste, hear or otherwise perceive this place conventionally right now doesn’t mean it isn’t there, and doesn’t likewise mean they are unable to do so ever. All it means is they haven’t ventured out beyond their typical boundaries to have a look or a listen.

Until recently. A brand new global online community built specifically for equine advocates in all their myriad forms has been created to assist in allowing easier dialogue. is a place where the two sides might find a purchase to begin building their base for a bridge that might connect there heretofore warring places. Because there all are welcome. Slowly passionate people from all sides of every controversy are identifying themselves and logging on to see what others have to say. With time heretofore invisible solutions will create themselves out of these people’s emerging intention to produce them.

As I search for unicorns I find I am surrounded by leagues of the creatures. Sparkly, ice-white, speckled starry night apaloosaed. Minuscule and humongous. Breezy and cheesy. They nicker and whicker at me using windchimed breezes, and baby step agreements from yin yang parties always encouraging me to live in the land of positive outcome. As though it exists. And dang if it does after all. Without exception.

Click here to purchase your OWN original unicorn pop art painting by the author of this post for as little as $10!
Click the here and you will find a version of the handbook mentioned above as well as links to audio practice mp3s in all-digital form – the book is free the practice audio recordings are just .99¢ each.

Join – it’s all free – and promises a Unicorn experience.

Hope….From the Hearts of Horses

Posted in Coaching, Equine Assisted, Learning, Videos with tags , , on September 13, 2009 by martimu

I just read a book entitled “Hope…From the Heart of Horses” by Kathy Pike and if you are at all intrigued with the concepts within Equine Assisted Learning and personal coaching you’ll want to pick this up. Ms. Pike walks the reader through her own  journey connecting with horses somewhat sporadically in the beginning in a manner that’s going to ring familiar with many, as she begins to discover the powerful impact of mindful interaction with them. She’s open with her failures which adds an element of gritty, plodding truth often missing in such writing. “Hope” begins with the author’s tough fall off a flighty warmblood into various round pens and arenas as

Available an

Available an

Ms. Pike explores the intriguing messages quiet relating with equines brings to awareness. In the book, she begins to form clinics and workshops sharing this information and as such becomes a strong new voice within the ever-burgeoning field(s) of equine assisted learning, coaching, therapy, and so on. I would love for her to have included some step by step descriptions of her teachings but perhaps she is compiling those for another piece. We can only hope. For more information visit her website: Coaching With Horses where you can learn about programs offered!

For a current and definitive guide to equine assisted methods the comprehensive “Walking the Way of the Horse” by Leif Hallburg is an excellent choice. I should add that as in everything else equine related, say natural horsemanship styles, etc, there are noted controversies between the less diplomatic practitioners of each group. This despite the fact they all have far more in common than not. Such is the nature of humans.walkingtheway

Inspired by these books and so many of my own interactions with horses a friend sent me a link to the piece below that perfectly illustrates some of the wonderful upbeat qualities of the horse-human bond. Phyllis and her nutty horse Shag-Ra have formed a life together that is light and uplifting in a perfectly unassuming and enlightening way.

Finally I complete this post with a painting I made last week before I even started the book or saw the video about some of the life’s path vistas available to we who are smart and/or lucky enough to get to be with horses a lot or even a little. I learn something every time. Sometimes it’s deeply philosophical, sometimes it’s how to have fun (like flapping your lips in time to music). Anyway, the proceeds from this piece will go towards helping fund the equine rescue network I’m getting ready to launch.

Wisdom With Horses

Wisdom With Horses - painting click to see at SongPony's Shop

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